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Flammability Testing Services

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From marine products to roofing materials, we evaluate the ignition, flame spread, heat release rate, smoke production rate and toxic potency characteristics of materials and assemblies. Many tests are conducted according to domestic or international standard procedures, and involve small to intermediate-scale specimens.

For questions about this testing, please contact Karen Carpenter at +1 210 522 3718.

Small-Scale Calorimetry Applications

Cone Calorimeter

Cone calorimeter tests (ASTM E1354, ISO 5660, NFPA 271) measure heat release rate, mass loss rate and smoke production rate. Tests on 100-mm2 samples include:

  • Controlled levels of radiant heat (0–100 kW/m2) with or without external igniter
  • Heat flux from 0 to 100 kW/m2
  • Horizontal or vertical orientation

Bomb Calorimeter

Bomb calorimeter tests (ISO 1716, NFPA 259) measure heat of combustion in BTU/lb. Testing on 1-g pellets is conducted in standardized burn conditions at constant volume in an oxygen atmosphere. Tests include:

  • ISO 1716

Combustion heat calculated on temperature rise, heat loss and latent heat of water vaporization

  • NFPA 259

Similar test procedure combined with muffle furnace procedure to account for residue heat of combustion

Microcalorimeter Test

In the FAA microflow calorimeter test (ASTM D7309), a 5-mg specimen is decomposed under standardized conditions. Testing is conducted at a constant heating rate between 0.2 and 2 K/s in an oxygen-free environment. Calculations include:

  • Method A

Controlled thermal decomposition, pyrolysis residue, specific heat of combustion, and heat release capacity

  • Method B

Controlled thermal oxidative decomposition, combustion residue, and net calorific value

Industrial-Scale Calorimetry Applications

SwRI’s industrial-scale calorimeter is contained within a 5,000-ft2 test facility designed specifically for industrial-scale fire performance investigations. This calorimeter is used for testing of:

  • Vehicles
  • Commodities
  • Pool fires
  • Custom fire performance

Heat release rates up to 10 MW can be measured and exhaust flows up to 14 m3/s can be developed during testing.

Intermediate-Scale Calorimetry Applications

Room Corner Tests

Room corner tests (NFPA 286, NFPA 265, ISO 9705, UBC 8-2, UBC 26-3, UL 1715) evaluate the flammability of surface finishes on exposed interior walls and ceilings. Common measurements include:

  • Heat release rate
  • Smoke release rate
  • Heat flux
  • Gas temperature

A 768-ft3 test room is situated next to a 10-ft2 exhaust hood equipped to measure heat release rates up to 3 MW and deliver exhaust flow up to 4 m3/s.

Single Burning Item

The single burning item test (SBI – EN 13823) is used by the European Union to classify construction products, excluding floorings. Heat release rate and smoke growth rate are calculated to determine classifications.

SwRI works with European labs to perform testing in accordance with SBI and other European standards for clients wishing to obtain a European classification and CE mark.


CPSC 16 CFR, Part 1633, developed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, addresses measurement of the flammability of mattresses, futons and mattress/box spring sets. SwRI can also run the following types of furniture tests:

  • California Technical Bulletin
  • Cigarette ignition
  • Open flame ignition

Flame Spread

  • ASTM E84 (NFPA 255, Steiner Tunnel Test)

Standard Test Method for Surface Burning Characteristics of Building Materials

  • ASTM E162

Standard Test Method for Surface Flammability of Materials Using a Radiant Heat Energy Source

  • ASTM E648 (NFPA 253)

Standard Test Method for Critical Radiant Flux of Floor-Covering Systems Using a Radiant Heat Energy Source

  • ASTM E1317 (IMO FTP Code Part 5)

Standard Test Method for Flammability of Marine Surface Finishes